A sneak peek at holiday recipes, part 1

Let me be the first to remind you that, based on when you read this, there are less than 165 days until Christmas! I know it’s shocking, but you can get a head start on shopping for all the chefs in your family by taking advantage of a “Christmas in July” preview of my latest cookbook, Festive Flavors of Ireland. However, if you’ve barely digested your Fourth of July barbecue and think it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas (shopping or dining), here are some recipes from the cookbook that are as delicious all summer as they are during the holidays. Visit www.irishcook.com to order signed copies (see advertisement in today’s newspaper).

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Smoked salmon and avocado

makes 12

The delicious combination of smoked salmon and avocado is highlighted in Chapter One: “Morning Mouth Filling”. It’s an impressive appetizer from Graham and Saoirse Roberts, producers of smoked salmon at Connemara Smokehouse in picturesque Ballyconneely, County Galway. They suggest serving them in small glass jars known as verrines, but you can make layers in glass cups or small jars.

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

8 ounces minced smoked salmon

2 avocado

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon white pepper

Fresh dill, coriander or caviar for garnish

Bread stick or grissini, to serve

In a medium bowl, whisk together cream cheese, parsley, and chives until smooth. Use the spoon or tube in twelve 2-ounce glass jars.

Slice smoked salmon over cream cheese mixture.

Three In a medium bowl, mash avocado. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Spoon over salmon. Garnish with dill, coriander or caviar. Serve with a bread stick or a teaspoon.

smoked salmon pat

6 services

Irish smoked salmon gains its unique dark orange color and subtle flavor from the traditional method of smoking over an open wood fire or in the oven. Its taste and texture are determined by the quality of the fish, with some of the world’s best from pure Irish waters. Salmon lovers love nothing better than eating it on a potato cake or on a slice of brown soda bread, but serving it as a pancake makes great party fare any time of year.

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

4 ounces fresh cream

8 ounces smoked salmon

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon of hot radish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Brown soda bread or water crackers, to serve

Tomb berries for garnish (optional)

Combine cream cheese, fresh cream, salmon, lemon juice, radish, dill and pepper in a food processor; Beat 5 to 6 times, or until mixture is roughly chopped but not completely smooth.

Two taste. Adjust seasoning, adding more pepper or lemon as needed. Transfer to a Keelner bowl or serving plate. (Can be prepared 1 day in advance, cover and refrigerate).

Three served with soda bread or biscuits. Garnish with capers (if using).

Citrus salad with blue cheese and walnuts

Services 8

A mix of crunchy nuts, salty cheese, and popular seedless holiday citruses like mandarin, clementine, tangerine, and satsuma make this light and refreshing salad perfect for Christmas brunch. Why is it so popular at Christmas? Usually, these types of citrus don’t ripen until late fall and winter, so they’re seen as a sign that Christmas is upon us. For a beautiful summer salad, use orange and grapefruit slices.

Champagne Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons minced shallot

3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil


ground black pepper


1 1/4 cup pecan halves

Slices of two seedless oranges, tangerines, clementines, or satsuma

5 ounces pep, Boston or butter lettuce, roughly shredded

arugula 5 ounces

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

One make vinaigrette. In a container with a lid, combine shallots, champagne or white wine vinegar, mustard, olive oil, walnut oil, salt and pepper; shake well.

Two make the power. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the pecans in a shallow skillet; Toast for 8 minutes, or until light brown and fragrant. to calm down.

Three In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, and watercress. My heart half the vinaigrette.

Four To serve, divide the salad among the salad bowls. Arrange citrus slices, blue cheese, and walnuts on top. Pass the rest of the vinaigrette.

Crab cakes with herbs mayonnaise

makes 24

Crab cakes are a great addition to a holiday party and a classic summer dish too. This delicious mayonnaise is the perfect topping, especially if you take some fresh herbs and prepare them a few hours before serving. If desired, put the sauce in a squeeze bottle and sprinkle lightly over each cake.

Herb mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

A dash of Tabasco sauce


ground black pepper

Kharabeesh cakes

8 ounces fresh crab meat, peeled

1 large egg, scrambled

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


ground black pepper

Seasoned breadcrumbs for shoveling

Canola oil for frying

One make mayonnaise. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, chives, parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day in advance, cover and put in the fridge).

Two Make crab cakes. In a large bowl, combine crab meat, eggs, mayonnaise, chives, parsley, tarragon, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, Tabasco, and Worcestershire, salt and pepper; Stir until blended. Form into 24 cakes of equal size; Dredge in breadcrumbs. place on a baking sheet; Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for two hours.

Three In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook the crab cakes for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Remove the buns from the oil. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.

four cakes on a serving plate; Tube or spoon mayonnaise on top.

This year Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For more details about her work or to order a signed cookbook, visit her website over here.

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